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Maple Leafs’ Matthews Olympic Team Pick, Tavares & Marner Not (Yet)

Today Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews to their Olympic hockey team. Will John Tavares and Mitch Marner make it?

Today five countries named the first three players of their Olympic teams for this year’s upcoming Olympics in Beijing, China. Team USA named Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, and Seth Jones to its team. The Canadian team named players Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Alex Pietrangelo.

That’s great news for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their star American center Matthews, but it leaves a couple of other Canadian forwards who play with the Maple Leafs – John Tavares and Mitch Marner – on the outside looking in, at least for the time being.   

Related: Can Maple Leafs Sheldon Keefe Win with a Different Team in 2021-22?

Perhaps Matthews Will Face-off Against Some Current Team-mates

In a nice article written by Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, he spoke about Matthews and Tavares battling each other for a puck during the Maple Leafs’ practice earlier today. It could be they’ll do that during the Olympic Games; however, we don’t know yet if that will be the case. We know that Matthews will be there, but we’re not sure about his Maple Leafs’ buddies.

If the two centers face off against each other – literally in the face-off circle – what might be an intense practice could turn into a more earnest one-on-one contestation. 

And Tavares is looking forward to it. Today in an interview about the possibility, Tavares noted that: “I think we’d be looking at each other a little differently than we did today and throughout the season.” 

Tavares was obviously happy for his team-mate, who has officially become part of Team USA. Tavares admitted that “we all expected him to be one of the three guys. It’d be good to play against him.”

John Tavares Auston Matthews
John Tavares Auston Matthews could play against each other (Upper Deck Maple Leafs)

For his part, the 24-year-old Matthews was pleased to be sharing Team USA’s roster with Kane, who’s often been his training partner. He also believes it’s great for the NHL to participate in the Winter Games, simply noting that: “It’s so good for hockey.”

Possible Olympic Players from the Maple Leafs

As noted earlier, both Tavares and Marner might also make Team Canada’s roster. But they also might be joined by Morgan Rielly. William Nylander has a good shot to make Team Sweden as well. Perhaps even David Kampf could make the Czech team as well.

Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe is a pragmatist about the experience. He believes that, because the Maple Leafs have a number of Olympic Game hopefuls on their roster, the audition process should push the team to start the regular season on a strong note. 

Matthews just suggested that the experience of playing against his current team-mates would “be fun. All of us are extremely close.” 

Matthews added that. “I’d like to think I know their game pretty well, and they’d probably say the same about me.”

Related: Waiver Exemption Likely Catches up to Maple Leafs’ Nick Robertson

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